Support for Self Care
Wheezing, weepy eyes, a streaming nose, itchy skin, rashes - all are signs that something disagrees with you. Allergies occur when our body has a bad reaction to a food or an outside substance such as pollen. Fortunately, there are plenty of remedies to alleviate many symptoms associated with an allergy.
In many cases, the most effective way of managing an allergy is to avoid the allergen that causes the reaction whenever possible.
For example, if you have a food allergy, you should check a food's ingredients list for allergens before eating it. The Food Standards Agency has more information about food allergen labelling.
There are also several medications available to help control symptoms of allergic reactions, including:
- antihistamines – these can be taken when you notice the symptoms of a reaction, or before being exposed to an allergen to stop a reaction occurring
- decongestants – tablets, capsules, nasal sprays or liquids that can be used as a short-term treatment for a blocked nose
- lotions and creams, such as moisturising creams (emollients) – these can reduce skin redness and itchiness
- steroid medication – sprays, drops, creams, inhalers and tablets that can help reduce redness and swelling caused by an allergic reaction
Baby & Children
Raising children brings joy and responsibility in equal measure. For all the good times there will be hurdles with most youngsters succumbing to at least one or more childhood illness during their early years. click on the links below to see the most common predicaments along with tips and advice:
Cold & Flu
Flu is not a 'bad cold'. Each year, thousands of people die of complications after catching the flu. Find out how colds and flu differ.
Colds and flu share some of the same symptoms (cough, sore throat), but are caused by different viruses. Flu can be much more serious than a cold.
If you're generally fit and healthy, you can usually manage the symptoms of a cold or flu yourself without seeing a doctor. Look after yourself by resting, drinking non-alcoholic fluids to avoid dehydration and avoiding strenuous activity. Painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol can relieve aches and pains.
- The best medicine to cure the common flu it to have plenty of rest. Having the flu takes a toll on your body, and it needs energy to strengthen its immune system to fight back the virus. While resting, your body can revitalize its energy and repair the damage caused by viral invaders. Your immune system works best when it is not stressed or in overdrive, so try to avoid or limit any physical activities till the time you feel strong enough to continue them.
- Fluids play a significant role when battling the flu. Flu makes your body easily dehydrated, so it is important to hydrate your body by drinking plenty of fluids. Drinking water works best as it wards off the symptoms of the flu and decreases its risk.
- If you are sweating profusely or experiencing symptoms of vomiting or diarrhea, your body may feel abnormal fluid loss. In this case, you will need to drink more fluids to replenish your body and reduce depletion of water from your cells.Though water is recommended as a primary fluid, you can also drink liquids like broth, clear juices, or herbal tea. Drinking herbal tea will help to boost antioxidants in your body. If you have trouble ingesting water, you can try drinking a sports drink that contains a significant amount of electrolytes. It will help your body to replenish the loss of important electrolytes from your body.
- Usually you feel a loss of appetite when down with the flu. If you can eat, try sticking to light and healthy food such as cereal, toast, rice, or crackers. Eating fresh fruits such as apples or bananas will also help with the flu, as they are full of fibres and healthy nutrients. Taking natural probiotics such as yogurt, kimchi, soy, or other fermented foods will keep your gut healthy and strong, and boost your immune system.
Ginger helps, to naturally combat nausea and vomiting, thus making it an excellent flu treatment. You can sip on ginger tea or drink organic ginger ale throughout the day to diminish your symptoms.
- Mucus present in your nose clogs the breathing passage, preventing you from breathing easily. Blow your nose as often as possible to prevent a sinus or ear infection. A steamy shower will also do wonders for clearing your nasal passages. The warm steam will pass through your lungs and into your nasal passage, and will loosen up mucus and relieve congestion in your chest and nose.
Taking appropriate medications are your best bet to fight against the virus of the flu. Antiviral medications will boost your immune system and manage your flu symptoms effectively. They lessen the duration of your symptoms and also make you less contagious to others. You can consider taking Covonia Cold and Flu Formula to get relief from aches and pains, headaches, sinuses, dry tickly sore throat, chest coughs, or blocked nose. It will help to relieve your irritating flu symptoms and clear any signs of congestion. Ibuprofen tablets can also help you to fight the feverish symptoms of flu. They will help you to bring your fever down and also help with headaches and muscular pain that is common with the flu.
Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person's blood sugar level to become too high.
There are two main types of diabetes:
- type 1 diabetes – where the body's immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin
- type 2 diabetes – where the body doesn't produce enough insulin, or the body's cells don't react to insulin
Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1. In the UK, around 90% of all adults with diabetes have type 2.
During pregnancy, some women have such high levels of blood glucose that their body is unable to produce enough insulin to absorb it all. This is known as gestational diabetes.
Many more people have blood sugar levels above the normal range, but not high enough to be diagnosed as having diabetes.
This is sometimes known as pre-diabetes. If your blood sugar level is above the normal range, your risk of developing full-blown diabetes is increased.
It's very important for diabetes to be diagnosed as early as possible because it will get progressively worse if left untreated.
When to see a doctor
Visit your GP as soon as possible if you experience the main symptoms of diabetes, which include:
- feeling very thirsty
- urinating more frequently than usual, particularly at night
- feeling very tired
- weight loss and loss of muscle bulk
- itching around the penis or vagina, or frequent episodes of thrush
- cuts or wounds that heal slowly
- blurred vision
Type 1 diabetes can develop quickly over weeks or even days.
Many people have type 2 diabetes for years without realising because the early symptoms tend to be general.
Oral hygiene is an essential component of good health. Keeping your teeth and gums in good condition can prevent problems ranging from bleeding gums through to your teeth falling out. Regular brushing, flossing and dental check-ups will do wonders for helping you retain fresh breath, strong gums and a winning smile.
Evidence suggests there are five steps we can all take to improve our mental wellbeing. If you give them a try, you may feel happier, more positive and able to get the most from life.
Connect – connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships. Learn more in Connect for mental wellbeing.
Be active – you don't have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life. Learn more in Get active for mental wellbeing.
Keep learning – learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike? Find out more in Learn for mental wellbeing.
Give to others – even the smallest act can count, whether it's a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks. Learn more in Give for mental wellbeing.
Be mindful – be more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness "mindfulness". It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges. Learn more in Mindfulness for mental wellbeing.
Joints & Mobility
Joint pain is a very common problem with many possible causes - but it's usually a result of injury or arthritis.
In older people, joint pain that gets steadily worse is usually a sign of osteoarthritis. It may affect just one joint, or many. See your GP if you have persistent symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Pregnancy & Parenting
Your body has a great deal to do during pregnancy. Sometimes the changes taking place will cause irritation or discomfort, and on occasions they may seem quite alarming. There is rarely any need for alarm, but you should mention anything that is worrying you to your maternity team. Click on one of the links below for more information.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
High blood pressure and pre-eclampsia
Indigestion and heartburn
Morning sickness and nausea
Urinating a lot
Skin and hair
Swollen ankles, feet, fingers
Teeth and gums
Allow your natural beauty to shine through by taking good care of your skin and tackling skin problems when they arise. There are many common skin complaints and most can be helped with simple remedies and good lifestyle choices.
The UK's Department of Health describes smoking as one of our most significant public health challenges. The habit accounts for more than 80,000 premature deaths each year. It's the biggest preventable cause of death. Some 21% of adults in England partake and a 15-cigarette-a-day habit will cost you more than £2,000 a year*. Giving up is good for everything: - your heart, your mind, your family and your pocket.
If you want to stop smoking, several different treatments are available from shops, pharmacies and on prescription to help you beat your addiction and reduce withdrawal symptoms.
The main options are:
The best treatment for you will depend on your personal preference, your age, whether you're pregnant or breastfeeding and any medical conditions you have. Speak to your GP or an NHS stop smoking adviser for advice.
Research has shown that all these methods can be effective. Importantly, evidence shows that they are most effective if used alongside support from an NHS stop smoking service.
The treatments available are outlined below. You can also read a summary of the pros and cons of stop smoking treatments, allowing you to compare your options.
It helps to know what to look out for whilst abroad and how to prevent problems arising in the first place. See below for a travel guide check-list:
First aid kit
A basic first aid kit includes:
insect bite treatment
medication for pre-existing medical conditions
For more detailed information, read Your medicine cabinet.
The sunscreen label should have:
the letters "UVA" in a circle logo and at least four-star UVA protection
at least SPF15 sunscreen to protect against UVB
For more adventurous travel and depending on where you're going, you could consider:
For country-specific health and safety advice, go to:
It's easy to neglect your eyes because they rarely hurt when there's a problem.
Having an eye test won't just tell you if you need new glasses or a change of prescription – it's also an important eye health check.
It can spot many general health problems and early signs of eye conditions before you're aware of any symptoms, many of which can be treated if found early enough.
According to the most recent government figures 61.3% of adults in England are overweight and 30% of children. It's difficult to know just how many people are dieting at any one time, but a recent poll of 2000 men and women in Britain, found that three-quarters had embarked on a diet in the past year.
Choose semi-skimmed or skimmed milk. It hardly tastes any different to full cream milk and is a rich source of the mineral calcium - essential for healthy teeth and bones.
Buy margarine labeled 'high in polyunsaturates' and use in place of butter.
Use low-fat yoghurt, low-fat fromage frais, or creme fraiche (all available in most supermarkets) instead of cream.
Eat half-fat cheese, cottage cheese or have smaller portions of stronger-flavoured cheese.
Snack on nuts or dried fruit rather than crisps, chocolates and biscuits.
Have fresh or baked fruit for pudding in place of cakes or pies.
Try microwaving, steaming, boiling or grilling rather than roasting or frying.
Buy leaner cuts of meat and trim any visible fat off before cooking.
Reduce the amount of fatty meats, like sausages and beef burgers, you eat.
Eat pastry in moderation as it contains a lot of saturated fat.
Measure oil for cooking using a spoon rather than pouring straight from the bottle or use a spray oil.
Cut down on chips. If you do cook them remember oven chips are lowest in fat.
Every year in the UK, thousands of people die or are seriously injured in incidents. Many deaths could be prevented if first aid is given before emergency services arrive.
If someone is injured you should:
first check that you and the casualty aren't in any danger, and, if possible, make the situation safe
if necessary, dial 999 or 112 for an ambulance when it's safe to do so
carry out basic first aid
This advice is a general guideline for use in an emergency.
It's not intended to replace professional classes in first aid and resuscitation.
If not, call for help – and immediately begin first aid. Send bystanders for help.
But if you're alone, perform basic life support for one minute before going for help.
Place the person on his or her back on the floor.
Tilt the head, so that the chin is pointing upwards. Do this by placing the fingertips under the jawbone, then lift gently while pressing down softly on the person's forehead. This is done to make sure the tongue is not blocking the throat.
Keep holding the head in this way while checking for breathing. Look if the chest is rising and falling, or place your ear next to their mouth to listen for breathing and feel breath on your cheek. Only check for 10 seconds.
If there's normal breathing, hold the head as described above until help arrives. If there's no breathing or gasping breaths, start basic life support.
How to give basic life support
In adults, the problem is usually the heart rather than the lungs – so cardiac compressions come first and rescue breaths second.
Do not waste time checking for a pulse, if the patient is not responding.
Place the heel of your hand in the middle of the chest above the breasts. The heel of your hand should now be positioned on the middle of the lower half of the breastbone (not over the ribs or stomach).
Now place the heel of your other hand on top of the first. Keep your fingers off the chest, by locking them together. Your pressure should be applied through the heels of the hands only.
Keep your elbows straight, and bring your body weight over your hands to make it easier to press down.
Press down firmly and quickly to achieve a downwards movement of 4 to 5cm, then relax and repeat the compression.
Do this at a rate of about 100 times a minute (which is fast and hard work – you can help your timing and counting by saying out loud 'one and two and three and four ...' etc)
Do this 30 times.
Now open the airway by positioning the head with the chin pointing upward.
Pinch the nostrils shut with two fingers to prevent leakage of air.
Take a normal breath, and seal your own mouth over the person's mouth, making sure there's a good seal.
Breathe slowly into the person's mouth – it should take about two seconds to adequately inflate the chest.
Do this twice.
Check to see if the chest rises as you breathe into the patient's mouth.
If it does, enough air is being blown in.
If there's resistance, try to hold the head back further and lift the chin again.
Continue with 30 chest compression, then two rescue breaths – and only stop if the victim starts to breath.
Do not stop for any other reason, until someone else can take over from you.
Change the person doing the resuscitation every couple of minutes, without any interruption to compressions.
If there are two rescuers: one can do breaths and the other compressions, still at a ratio of 30 compressions, then two breaths.
With all types of bleeding, it's important to stop the flow of blood as quickly as possible.
Small cuts in the veins stop bleeding and clot within a few minutes. The area should then be washed, and a plaster placed gently on top.
Deeper cuts in the veins produce dark blood that seeps out slowly and steadily. It can be stopped by gentle pressure on the wound with a sterile or clean cloth, followed by the application of a clean or sterile bandage.
Often, these wounds need sewing or gluing, and almost all need a careful clean, so medical treatment will be necessary after first aid.
Arterial bleeding must always be treated by a doctor.
Bleeding from an artery can cause death within a few minutes – so urgent first aid is essential.
This type of bleeding pulsates and squirts blood, as the pulse beats. The blood is often a light red colour.
To stop bleeding from an artery:
apply hard pressure on the wound, and keep this up until the patient receives medical treatment
press with a sterile cloth or just use your hand, if nothing else is available
put a bandage on the wound if possible. If the blood soaks through the bandages, press harder until the bleeding stops
do not remove the soaked bandages, but place another on top if necessary
do not attempt to clean the wound.
The person must be made to lie down, preferably with their head lower than the rest of their body. This will ensure that enough oxygen gets to the brain.
If possible, position the wounded area higher than the rest of their body – so that the bleeding, will be reduced.
Nosebleeds occur when one of the small blood vessels in the mucous membranes of the nose bursts. Blood may also run into the stomach and then be vomited up.
Do not bend the head backwards or lie down, because this increases blood pressure in the head and so increases the bleeding.
To limit the bleeding:
pinch the nostrils shut with the index and middle finger for 10 minutes. This way, the vein is compressed, which is often enough to stem the flow
while the nostrils are shut, the person must breathe through their mouth
if the bleeding continues, it's important to contact a doctor.
If the person frequently suffers sudden, intense nosebleeds – they should also consult a doctor.
Choking happens when the passage through the windpipe is blocked. This usually occurs when food that hasn't been thoroughly chewed gets stuck.
If someone looks like they're choking, ask them if they're able to talk.
A person who is genuinely choking can usually only communicate with hand movements, and may place their hand against their throat. In such a case they will definitely need help, so summon assistance for them.
Provided the person is conscious and talking, you should not interfere. Encourage them to cough. However, be prepared to do so, if the obstruction appears to become complete or markedly worse.
If the person is conscious, but struggling to breath, stand behind them and lean their head slightly forward.
Using a flat palm, strike them forcefully between the shoulder blades, in the hope they will cough up (and out) the item causing choking. Repeat up to five times. If unsuccessful, proceed to the Heimlich manoeuvre:
The Heimlich manoeuvre
Stand behind the person, who is choking.
Place your arms around their waist, and bend them well forward.
Clench your fist, and place it right above the person's navel (belly button).
Place your other hand on top, then thrust both hands backwards into the stomach with a hard, upward movement.
Repeat this until the object stuck in the throat is expelled through their mouth.
If you need to carry out this manoeuvre on yourself, place a clenched hand above your navel (belly button) and your other hand on top. Then thrust your fist hard into your stomach.
Repeat this until the object stuck in the throat is expelled through the mouth.
Shock occurs when too little blood circulates to the brain.
This means that the brain is not receiving enough oxygen, which leads to a feeling of faintness, disorientation and dizziness.
Shock may occur:
after an accident involving loss of blood
after a serious infection, with loss of fluids
after a serious burn
after other accidents that cause loss of fluids or blood
as part of an allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).
When there is not enough blood in the blood vessels, the blood pressure drops and too little oxygen is circulated to the brain.
When this occurs a person may:
turn sweaty, clammy and cold
become anxious or restless
have a weak, fast pulse
have low blood pressure
have slow, weak breathing
become anxious or restless.
What to do if someone is in shock?
The person must lie on their back – preferably with their feet raised – to ensure enough blood gets to the brain.
Make sure the person is warm, comfortable and covered by a blanket if possible.
Do not give them anything to drink because they could run a risk of choking.
If the person vomits or bleeds from the mouth, he or she must be placed on their side to prevent choking.
Call for an ambulance. A person in shock must always be treated by a doctor.